Home Phone Service: Is VoIP right for you?

Wall Street Journal:

Magic Jack: Cheap, Way Overhyped, But Really Works

 

Stalled car with woman calling for help on her cellphoneAre you considering using an IP phone company such as magicJack for your home phone service? You should first ask whether your internet connection is good enough for phone calls. Using the Internet for phone calls is referred to as Voice over Internet Protocol, or VoIP.

Conventional providers of home phone service offer peace of mind – many consumers grew up with Ma Bell, and others rely heavily on the companies for  their mobile phones. If your Internet connection is fast enough to support IP phone service, you can enjoy  new features and save hundreds of dollars each year. Those who elect to try VoIP should keep their existing home phone service while ironing out any wrinkles with their new magicJack.

 

VoIP problems as a home phone serviceVoIP – Good for Home Phone Service?

VoIP is not for anyone who has dial up service or who is using a satellite dish for an internet connection. Dial up service isn’t fast enough to carry ‘real time’ audio, and there’s nothing quite so disheartening as trying to call home – only to hear static.

Satellite internet services are not good candidates for VoIP either. The signal has to travel to a satellite which is 22,000 miles above the earth – then bounce back to your dish. The signal travels fast, but the distance is so great there are significant lags in the conversation. If that wasn’t bad enough, satellite services are only speedy in one direction – from the provider’s dish to yours. Any signal sent back to the provider is much slower, and your conversation would end in static, just as if you had dial up service.

 

Cable or DSL Should Be OK

If you have DSL or cable internet service though, there’s a good chance you’ll be able to use a VoIP as a much less expensive home phone service. You should do a little more checking before dropping your check in the mail, though. Visualware has provided a handy VoIP test; begin by clicking on a map to show your location, and next click on one of the pin icons to select a specific testing location. Once you’ve clicked to allow Java to run the actual test itself, the third screen (below) appears. The test on this screen provides a speed test result, but the test we’re after is more extensive – so click on the VoIP link on the right side (as shown below).

Ignore the speed test - click on the VoIP linkIgnore the speed test shown on the initial screen; select the VoIP test instead.

After clicking on the VoIP link, you’ll be taken to a test which is specifically designed for VoIP connections. Click on the button to start the test (as shown below), and the VoIP simulation will begin, leading to a final screen which summarizes the test results.

Click on the button to start the VoIP test Click on the start button to begin the VoIP test

 

What Successful Test Results Look Like

If your internet connection has passed the tests above, Congratulations! Chances are good that you will be able to use your Internet connection as an inexpensive home phone service, saving hundreds of dollars every year. Your VoIP enabled phone will provide you with a number of benefits, and still more benefits may be possible using software plugins for your service.

 The final screen gives an indication of how well your internet connection will carry a phone call

The various VoIP services provide a variety of benefits, as indicated in the pages linked in the Navigation section near the top of the right sidebar.